doctor strange

Doctor Strange

“Doctor Strange” is filled with fantastic characters that are so magnificently played it’ll be difficult to say this isn’t one of, if not the, best Marvel has conjured up in the casting department.  You are immediately drawn to Cumberbatch and his arrogant and cocksure attitude as neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange.  Dr. Strange is very skilled with his hands and he has become self-centered and shallow, even enough to lose someone who he feels may be beneath him as he gets better and better in the operating room.  Dr. Strange could never admit to needing anyone; they need him.  His ego extends to the love department, as well, and his on-again, off-again relationship with Christine Palmer (McAdams) is strained at best.

Speeding on a winding road during a storm (where he’s on a phone call you need to pay attention to), leads to an unfortunate accident where his hands become one with the dash and are severely injured.  He is rushed to the hospital where the surgeons can save his life but his hands will never be the same.  Of course had he been the surgeon, they would be perfect.  Now in constant pain and unable to be a surgeon, he is lost.  Christine has done all she can to help and comfort him but she realizes ultimately that he must find his own way.  On this journey, he is lead to Karma-Taj where he meets Mordo (Ejiofor) who introduces him to the Ancient One (Swinton).  He begins to train his body by learning to understand that the physical is merely one part of a person.  He is shown that he can heal his physical body through reprogramming his cells and connecting to his spirit.  It is an honor to watch Ejiofor and Swinton work alongside one another.  They’re transformative and their commitment to the roles plays well in this newest Marvel film and as much as they are, the film is visually beautiful.  Streets fold in on themselves as characters move through different dimensions and doorways which conjure feelings of the very optical film “Inception”.

“Doctor Strange” is filled with fantastic characters that are so magnificently played…this Marvel movie will not disappoint. Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

As well as being a visual masterpiece, the fight sequences are brilliant.  Dr. Strange is brought into the fold and taught magic to help fight off dark forces and a rogue student named Kaecilius (Mikkelsen).  Strange isn’t interested at first because he became a doctor to save lives, not take them but is forced into helping when it’s obvious that he was born for the part, much like Cumberbatch was born to play this role in the Marvel Comics Universe.

Stan Lee pops up in a fun scene on a bus while they’re in the mirror dimension so look for that.   I promise, this Marvel movie will not disappoint.  There is a strong theme, you’ll love the comedic elements, the performances are perfect and the script is strong.  There is a good set up for the next movie and, as always, stay through the very, very end credits.  There will be two post credit clips.  Enjoy! 

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Moonlight

In “Moonlight”, a film presented in three acts, we meet Chiron, a young, poor black boy who knows he’s gay but doesn’t know why or what it means.  Chiron is growing up without a father and barely has a mother.  His mother works all hours and if she isn’t working, she’s doing drugs or turning tricks for drug money and horribly neglecting her son.  He struggles each day to raise himself for he’s alone most of the time and age nine, it’s not easy in his neighborhood to find answers to questions life presents.

He finds a friend, role model and father figure in Juan (Ali), who is not physically in the film very long but whose presence never leaves.  His character is what carries Chiron and the film forward.  Juan welcomes Chiron into his home, feeds him and shows the child warmth and affection for, possibly, the first time in his life.  Outside of Juan and a friend named Kevin, Chiron’s life is empty and it has left him an emotional cripple.

The film deals with a very sensitive subject quite delicately as we see Chiron has grown from boy to teenager; we begin the second act.  Juan has passed away and he has little to no ambition and nowhere to turn.  Chiron still has Kevin in his life, who has tried for years to toughen Chiron but has never left his side.  The cinematography is used to give you the feeling of being Chiron; alone, confused, chaotic and intoxicatingly muddled.  Some cuts are abrupt and there are deliberate projections of the young man disappearing or being swallowed by his surroundings not to mention an obvious use of hand-held camerawork that sets the tone of fear within him.  You’re absorbed into his life of being odd man out.

The movie will move you with unforgettable performances and an exquisite musical score. Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Little now understands who he is and a very tender sexual moment on the beach with Kevin is nicely and admirably handled.  Chiron is finally touched gently and lovingly and he learns there is more to life than anger and hate and that what people call him and that which he is inside are very different.

“Moonlight” offers a beautifully shot, sweet, yet at times, terrible look into Chiron’s sexual awakening and becoming a man.  In act three we see that he has toughened up but never has not let go of that moment on the beach; has never gotten over Kevin.  It’s slow at times but the movie will move you with unforgettable performances and an exquisite musical score.  The story is very well written and you’ll be affected by the subject and how it’s taken care of. 

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Hacksaw Ridge

War is Hell, as it is said, but a movie about War can go many different ways. “Hacksaw Ridge” plays up the unusual angle of a World War II conscientious objector who was the first one to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. He refused to carry a weapon on the battlefield, and instead carried 75 wounded men to safety on Okinawa.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) grows up in a backwoods area in Virginia. He was raised by his strict alcoholic father (Hugo Weaving) and loving mother (Rachel Griffiths). When his brother goes off to WWII, Desmond also decides to enlist. His new girlfriend Dorothy (Teresa Palmer) is surprised, because Doss is such a gentle soul.

Doss proclaims status as conscientious objector is valid in the Army. But it does not sit well with his superiors, Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover (Sam Worthington).  They try every way possible to make Doss uncomfortable so he will leave on his own. The base commander orders Doss to pick up a rifle. When he refuses, Doss is threatened with court marshal.

Doss misses the leave from the base when he was to be married to Dorothy. Desmond’s father pulls some old favors from a World War I buddy. Desmond Doss is set free again to become a medic for the unit.

As the war winds down in Europe, the savage battle rages on in Japanese waters. On Okinawa, the unit is sent to perform an impossible mission: take Hacksaw Ridge. The long climb up rope ladders deposits the troops in a barren field of death. Other units have tried to take the Ridge, and many have died fighting the Japanese.

The fierce battle starts death coming from every direction. There are tunnels and bunkers and heavy weapons that the Japs are bringing down on the troops. Doss and his unit are slogging and fighting on, at the cost of many dead and wounded.  The Japanese retreat into hiding, getting ready to come in full force again.

Doss remains in the field, up on top of the Ridge. He hears a weak cry and goes to help a soldier. And then there is another, and another. He devises a way to lower the wounded down the side of the cliff, so he can stay and care for more wounded. Doss becomes the only one able save some of the solders. He helps Sergeant Howell among others.

Captain Glover is shocked to see so many of his men in the field hospital the next day. He finds out that Desmond Doss treated and carried out each of the 75 men. Doss and the rest of the troops are ordered to take the Ridge again. But this time, all the men are ready to reach the goal, knowing that Doss had the courage to stay up on the Ridge all night and save so many.

Andrew Garfield does a marvelous job with the difficult role of Doss. He plays a man of principles who is put down for his beliefs, but who is so strong in his conviction that he makes up for the fact that he will not fight. In a bloody and gruesome situation, Doss continued to find a way to save his fellow solders.

Every other actor does a really good job with the roles that they portray. But a special nod must go to Vince Vaughn, because in this role he is stretching his acting ability to new level. He plays a drill sergeant with a slight sarcastic streak. He is nowhere as good as R Lee Ermey in “Full Metal Jacket”, who was the real deal.

Mel Gibson is the director, and he is making his way back to place of respectability in Hollywood. Gibson might be criticized for the level of violence and gore in this movie. But it is a War movie, of course, so there will have to be something that will be bloody. The first part of the movie is almost a fantasy of small town and rural life, so the next part with the blood and guts does come as a shock.

The true life story of Desmond Doss is worth telling, and this movie tells the story well. It dips into a section of extreme war time violence that is disturbing. But Doss made the choice not to fight, he made the choice to help save. He was recognized and rewarded for his efforts.

Inferno

Dan Brown as authored three books with a protagonist named Robert Langdon; ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘Angels & Demons’ and ‘Inferno’. All have now been made into a movie with Tom Hanks playing Langdon. The most recent ‘Inferno’ uses imagery from Dante’s description of Hell. So now the audience knows what they are in for…

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is a famous professor at Harvard. Yet he wakes up in a hospital room in Florence, Italy. He has no memory of the last few days. Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) has been helping take care of him, but there is an assassin who comes in and attempts to kill Langdon. Brooks helps Langdon escape.

After much lengthy exposition, they find clues to a super virus designed by a mad biologist-billionaire named Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster). He planted a virus to wipe out 90% of humanity. Zobrist was being chased by international agents of the World Health Organization (WHO), and when cornered, he killed himself rather than reveal the location of the deadly virus.

Zorbist hired a super-secret security firm run by Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan). They were supposed to carry out his final wishes, but Sims finds out that the virus will be fatal to most of the world’s population. So he joins forces with the head of WHO, named Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen). She does not trust him, but she has no choice.

Christoph Bouchard (Omar Sy) finds Langdon and Brooks, and he wants to know the location of the virus. He lied about working for WHO, because he wants the virus to sell it on the black market. Langdon and Brooks go from Florence to Venice, and then to Istanbul. Langdon uses his special knowledge of ancient history and symbols to find the location of the virus.

If this all sounds fascinating and exciting, then you would be mistaken. The characters exist only to spout off overheated rhetoric and exposition. Every conceivable situation feels contrived and over-the-top. People know way too much about ancient languages and historical artifacts. Main characters seem to change in a blink of an eye from a reasonable person to money-hungry would-be arms dealer or even a Zobrist inspired bio-terrorist.

Every person in this movie has difficulty being believable, but mostly that is because the story line makes them say and do things that are absurd. Irrfan Khan comes off the best, because his character is somewhat mysterious and morally ambiguous. Tom Hanks has a lot of dialog, but he appears to ‘sleep talk’ his way through it all. Felicity Jones is weighed down with an improbable switch of her character arc midway in the movie.

There is a lot of talking and running, and going from one museum or city to another. There is much movement, but very little in plot development. The major bad guy has committed suicide at the beginning of the movie, and he is not around to fight against Langdon. There is a supposed prior love interest of Langdon’s that is brought up, and that never is resolved. Many doors are opened, but nothing comes from any of it.

Dante’s Inferno was his representation of Hell, put down in words. The movie ‘Inferno’ is just a reimagining of the same Hell, but as a movie experience.

The Pickle Recipe

We are introduced to Joey Miller (Dore) a broke father working as an MC or deejay in the Detroit area, specializing in weddings and Bar Mitzvah.  His daughter is about to have her Bat Mitzvah, something he’s looking forward to having a hand in deejaying, when an accident occurs; blowing up a wedding celebration.  All of his gear, his lighting and sound equipment, is destroyed beyond repair.  He finds out that it’s going to cost him $20,000 to get things rolling again, a sum a little high for him to handle.  Now entering the fun is our antagonist, the ex-wife’s new horse buying husband, Harris, who Joey now has to compete with for the love of his own flesh and blood.  With all of the money he’s losing, as well as his reputation with his daughter being on the line, Joey finds nowhere to turn for help but to his horrible uncle Morty (Paymer).  Hitting rock bottom, he decides to aid Morty who has been alienated from his eighty-five year old mother Rose’s life for being a weasel.  Rose is played by the talented Lynn Cohen from “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” “Deconstructing Harry,” “Munich” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” to name a few, and her extraordinarily priceless, unique and well guarded pickle recipe so something Mort has been trying to get his hands on for a long time.  Morty wants Joey to steal it for their own personal gain before she takes it to the grave with her as it would do no one any good if she passes without passing it along.  Question is, can Joey “obtain” this recipe for his uncle from his own grandmother?

To get close to her and getting the recipe, Joey starts working in her deli.  Rose is nearly a said and loved by all of her employees who immediately do not trust him, as they never have Morty.  Getting close to procuring the recipe but then she changes her mind, Joey gets frustrated and is about to give up when Morty doubles the reward to $40,000.  Joey digs in and gets help to get his treasure.

The attempt to pull at your heart strings feels contrived and though there are some strong performances, it simply doesn’t work.

Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Most of the individual actors are good, especially Cohen.  The concept is charming and Rose is sweet… she’s cranky and she’s lovable at the same time, but the story is ridiculous and late night television entertainment at best.  I’m sure what was a small budget didn’t help the production value and without mass appeal and with no real audience this will fall into obscurity.  A scene teaching someone how to be Jewish was the real low point and with Morty suggesting Rose be water boarded to get the recipe, that’s hard to say but it truly was.  There is some appeal found when her recipe is trying to be duplicated but not enough to suggest this is a film you must see.  The attempt to pull at your heart strings feels contrived and though there are some strong performances, it simply doesn’t work.

christine

Christine

“Christine” is based on the story of Christine Chubbuck (Hall), an investigative news reporter in Florida, where she lived with her mother, Peg (Smith-Cameron).  The most compelling part , and it is fascinating, of this sluggish film is watching people behind the scenes at a news station in the 1970’s, work with the tools they had to work with to run the news in the pre-digital age.  They were still cutting film together before the advent of video tape and it’s especially interesting watching them scramble to put a segment together last minute from the very expensive film they were then using.  This is where we find, Christine; behind the eight-ball, unhappy at work and depressed.  Her editor, Mike (Letts), wants Christine to do more “exploitive” work.  Mike wants his reporters to work on stories that have grit; stories that sensationalize and grab the attention of the audience.  What she wants is to be taken seriously by the public and do good work; work that will get her a promotion.

She struggles with the difference between what he wants and what she believes is right and when she finds out she has a tumor, Christine insists she leave her mark on the world even quicker.  Sadly, the film doesn’t concentrate on one subject long enough to give her one true and distinctive reason to be banal.  She’s unhappy but what can bring a person to be so tormented to bring them to do what she ultimately does?  She gives her editor what he wants, though.  She gives him a gripping story and a television first.

The film does exploit what eventually happens to Christine.  She gave Mike his story and she got the attention she dreamed of at the same time.  Unfortunately, the film depicts her as the coldest and most dreary individual ever born, with incredibly dry and humdrum dialogue.  Too dull that it becomes fatiguing to actually watch.

She gives her editor what he wants, though.  She gives him a gripping story and a television first. Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Learning that Christine had never had love in her life, never had a sexual relationship and clearly was not able to cope with the cards she was dealt any longer that she commits suicide on television for all to see, got people to tune into the news and might be what gets you to tune into this, however, had director, Campos, concentrated on how Christine could get to this point and gone back further in her life, rather than jump all over the place, (even making it unclear as to exactly who Peg was at first), “Christine” could have had you more engrossed in the story, in who she was and quite heartbroken when she takes her life; rather than just mildly touched, a bit surprised and not sure of the films true purpose.

Oasis: Supersonic

Oasis: Supersonic

Ever wonder what happened to the British pop group that came up with the smash hit song “Wonderwall” and why it happened?  Wonder no more and take a peek over that wall and into the lives of the band Oasis and the often contentious and belligerent Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel.  Executive producer Asif Kapadi, director of Academy Award winning “Amy”, the Amy Winehouse biopic, along with director Mat Whitecross, saw a good story in the band that rose too fast and peaked too soon and worked with clips of the band on their rise to the top.

They gathered snippets and collages of interviews and behind the scenes videos and with effective and creative editing came up with an inexplicably engaging documentary you’ll most likely want to watch for the soul reason you might have asked yourself some time ago, ‘What’s their story?’  It’s all here in this documentary “Oasis: Supersonic” that the brothers helped to produce but still couldn’t work together enough to dub their voiceover tracks together.  Well, they’re still Liam and Noel who, perhaps forever, will look back in anger at one another but not regret a thing as their time in the band, good or bad, gave them the best experiences they could have hoped for… which was everything they dreamed of.

The film catches a lot of bitter moments but it also lets you in on how such passionate music came from these two creative souls.  They became who they did because of an abusive father who abandoned them and because sibling rivalry, which was always an issue.  There are five years between them but they seem more like twins, calling themselves “head-cases”.  They have an older brother, Paul, who Noel is a year younger than, that you see a few times but it’s clear these two were close once they started to share a love of music.  Liam, who seems to be the more erratic of the two, wants to thank the person who hit him over the head with a hammer for it was this moment his melodic future was born.  Noel, the songwriter, released his anger toward his father over abuse, stating that he, ‘beat the talent into me.’

The film spans their 1994 debut through the inevitable breakup in 2009 as it shifts from bad moments to good; from members that come and go and the beautiful music that happened in between.  During the journey you see the fans who worshipped them and the people who wanted their money and how both affected them greatly.  The press could be cruel to them for saying what they wanted to, when they wanted to and doing what they wanted to when they wanted to but that was them.  They were rock and roll stars and weren’t going to be controlled… not even by each other.  In the end, the good outweighed the bad and I’d have to say that for this, as well.  In fact, there is no bad.  It’s a fantastic documentary and if you’re a fan of Oasis music, it’s one to add to your movie collection.  This will have you praying they get back together.  The thought that excites me is that they watch this and think that very same thing themselves.  Let’s hope!  They can’t go off into the Champagne Supernova just yet.

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American Pastoral

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Phillip Roth novel of the same name, “American Pastoral” follows an American family through a personal tragedy; the ultimate reason for it and result of it being very much the focus of that generation of American youth and the young generation of today.  In the 1960’s there were protests over war and protests for the rights of African Americans that got incredibly violent but there was something else going on with many of the protestors that went deeper than the known movements.  “American Pastoral” is a very powerful film about a father, Seymour ‘Swede’ Levov (McGregor) attempting to save his daughter amidst this chaos and ultimately save her from herself.

At a very young age, Merry (Fanning) felt she was in competition with her mother Dawn (Connelly) for her father’s attention.  This assertion needed a defense and she developed a stutter that her perfect mother didn’t have but which Merry always garnered pity and sympathy.  Though very young, she was aware of self.  Merry knew what she wanted; believing that, ‘life is just a short space of time in which you are alive.’  She lived her life with this frame of mind and still quite early in her mental development she witnesses, on television, the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk who burned himself to death in Saigon.  The reason the man did this was because to protest the South Vietnamese Diem regime’s pro-Catholic policies and its banning of the Buddhist flag.  This leaves a heavy impression on Merry and she grows into an angry young woman filled with guilt for her parents’ wealth, self-condemnation for living the good life when so many others have nothing and a general hatred for all things, making it difficult for her parents to know who she truly is.  She suddenly disappears after a post office bombing that leaves one man dead.  Her parents start to fall apart as the accusations and evidence against Merry begins to grow.  They begin to change during this process and the story goes from a sweet loving family to one divided as Seymour never gives up on finding his daughter, ultimately clearing her name and helping her.  When he finds his darling child and she admits her guilt, he still refuses to give up on her, loving her through the wrong she’s done and the shame she feels toward herself for being born.

Ewan McGregor gives a stirring performance and captivates the audience in his directorial debut. Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Ewan McGregor gives a stirring performance and captivates the audience in his directorial debut.  What little you see of Fanning is compelling and she, as well as her characters chilling beliefs, leaves an impression on you that is hard to shake.  Outside of the unnecessary narration and how the story begins, which is a conversation at a reunion, the movie is powerful and haunting.  This will be considered for nominations this year as it speaks to past civil unrest and what we’re still going through in present day.    

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First Look at Nintendo Switch

Introducing Nintendo Switch! In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.
american-honey

American Honey

American Honey is sweet and wholesome; the film that bares that name is anything but.  It’s a raw portrayal of a slice of Americana that we want to believe doesn’t exist; that we prefer not to think about.  It’s captured with intimate camera work that masterfully puts its audience in the story with, even as, the lead character, Star (Lane).  Lane is a newcomer and does a stellar job of giving us a peek at Arnold’s idea of the challenges the young people in America face today trying to know one another and know themselves.  With particular interest cast on the poor youth of this nation, the story can be uncomfortable to watch.  They are expected to raise themselves and their siblings, while also having to try and keep up with the fast paced and changing world of technology that they might not be able to afford.  It’s true that text messaging and social media has kept us from speaking face to face, this is not so in Stars life.  She sees day to day what matters and faces some daily confrontations most never have.  She is also very aware of the planet and understands the need to save it… one honey bee at a time.  The environment and trying to save it is a very powerful message throughout the film, which does not go by unnoticed.

 

Star has strong convictions but she’s not otherwise worldly.  When she joins an enthusiastic and somewhat feral group of young traveling magazine salesman, she meets who might be her first love, Jake (LaBeouf), who she surprises with her confidence and her ability to love.  She’s wide eyed, has never been anywhere outside of town and hasn’t seen much, but that doesn’t mean she’s easy.  Fighting off advances from family members and being witness to countless problems befall her family she’s aggressive and fierce when she needs to be.  Taking on the task of sales, she tries the honest route instead of allowing Jake to teach her the way their boss Krystal (Keough, granddaughter of Elvis Presley) wants her to sell.  She’s unorthodox but gets it done.  Being stubborn and bullheaded does land her in some hot water more than once, however, watching this naïve girl grow up and become a part of something and discover herself as she bounces from city to city is incredibly fascinating… even though you cringe a few times.

The soundtrack, one I’d like to own, by the way, feeds the mood, especially the moment when the title song, “American Honey” by Lady Antebellum, is played and the entire crew sings with it.  The actors who expertly pull you into the narrative turn the movie into a musical from time to time and make it more relatable and moving.  The length is never an issue, in fact, I never once thought I was watching an almost three hour long movie.

Several scenes are surprisingly pornographic but they fall in line with the organic ambiance of the film.  It’s compelling, novel, and peculiar and about as uncommon as they come, which is why I celebrate this work and suggest you go to a theatre this weekend to examine it for yourself.

It’s one of the best films of the year.